Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So Much

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9780674003286: Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So Much

America's elite colleges and universities are the best in the world. They are also the most expensive, with tuition rising faster than the rate of inflation over the past thirty years and no indication that this trend will abate.

Ronald G. Ehrenberg explores the causes of this tuition inflation, drawing on his many years as a teacher and researcher of the economics of higher education and as a senior administrator at Cornell University. Using incidents and examples from his own experience, he discusses a wide range of topics, including endowment policies, admissions and financial aid policies, the funding of research, tenure and the end of mandatory retirement, information technology, libraries and distance learning, student housing, and intercollegiate athletics.

He shows that elite colleges and universities, having multiple, relatively independent constituencies, suffer from ineffective central control of their costs. And in a fascinating analysis of their response to the ratings published by magazines such as U.S. News & World Report, he shows how they engage in a dysfunctional competition for students.

In the short run, these colleges and universities have little need to worry about rising tuition, since the number of qualified students applying for entrance is rising even faster. But in the long run, it is not at all clear that the increases can be sustained.

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About the Author:

Ronald G. Ehrenberg is Irving M. Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics at Cornell University and Director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.

Review:

A thorough book on the behind the scene and publicly acknowledged factors for tuition increases at our nation's 3,600 public and private universities. The author offers recommendations on how colleges can hold down costs such as sharing of resources and for specialized courses to be simultaneously taught at multiple institutions. (California Education News)

[Ehrenberg] argues that colleges are risk-averse and slow to react to market pressures, traits that serve to keep tuition high. Another factor affecting tuition in recent years, Ehrenberg writes, is that colleges have felt pressure to follow other professions in which salaries are rising in return for greater productivity. 'Faculty productivity tends not to increase over time,' he says. 'If you want to give faculty salary increases, you have to generate outside revenue or raise tuition. And universities have not been good at generating outside revenue.' (Andrew Brownstein Chronicle of Higher Education 2000-10-27)

Why is college so expensive? Ronald Ehrenberg has an answer. The short version: Elite universities want to excel at everything they do, and excellence is expensive. The complete answer would fill a book. In fact, it has. Ehrenberg's Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So Much exposes the forces that drive up tuition and reveals how hard it is for administrators to slow the ascent. (Cornell Magazine 2000-11-12)

In Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So Much, Ronald Ehrenberg provides a concise and compelling explanation of the influence of academic governance processes on rising university expenditures and tuition charges... His book is a rare and insightful primer on the intersection of governance and finance. (Edward P. St. John Academe 2003-09-01)

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Ronald G. Ehrenberg
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